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Quranic Terminology: Brother/Brethren Regarding Both the Human and Religious Levels


Quranic Terminology: Brother/Brethren Regarding Both the Human and Religious Levels


Published in March 13, 2018

Translated by: Ahmed Fathy


Firstly: all human beings are brethren who share one parentage, as they are the progeny of Adam and his wife:

1- After the descent/fall of Adam and his wife into the earth, as God has expelled them from the Barsakh-level Paradise for their disobedience, God has sent Scriptures or celestial messages to guide the progeny of Adam, and the Last Message of them all is the Quran.

1/1: God says in the Quran: "O Children of Adam! When messengers from among you come to you, relating to you My Verses - whoever practices piety and reforms - upon them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve." (7:35). This means that those who die as pious persons will be among the allies of God who will never feel fear or sorrow on the Day of Resurrection.

1/2: God urges human beings to adhere to piety that will weave the dresses of the good, monotheistic people in the Hereafter; i.e., in Paradise: "O Children of Adam! We have provided you with clothing to cover your bodies, and for luxury. But the clothing of piety - that is best. These are some of God's Verses, so that they may take heed." (7:26).

1/3: God warns human beings against Satan who caused the expulsion of Adam and his wife (who are the parents of all humanity) from the Barsakh-Level Paradise: "O Children of Adam! Do not let Satan seduce you, as he drove your parents out of the Garden, stripping them of their garments, to show them their nakedness. He sees you, him and his clan, from where you cannot see them. We have made the devils allies of those who do not believe." (7:27).

2- The Quranic sharia legislations address all male and female progeny of Adam; this is exemplified in the points below.

2/1: This is about dressing properly within all mosques and indeed all places that fit for prostration and worship; i.e., the whole earth: "O Children of Adam! Dress properly at every place of worship..." (7:31).

2/2: God has honored human beings: "We have honored the Children of Adam, and carried them on land and sea, and provided them with good things, and greatly favored them over many of those We created." (17:70). This implies that it is prohibited to humiliate, insult, and torture human beings except within retribution if they committed these sins against others; what about the epidemic of torture that occur routinely within the Middle-Eastern tyrannical countries, then?! 

2/3: Equality among all human beings as brethren who share one parentage (of Adam and his wife) regardless of their differ races, colors, cultures, social/economic levels is expressed in this verse about their getting to know one another, as the best among them before the sight of the Lord God on the Last Day are those who have been the most pious (and not the richest, the strongest, or the prettiest): "O People! We created you from a male and a female, and made you races and tribes, that you may know one another. The best among you in the sight of God is the most righteous. God is All-Knowing, Well-Experienced." (49:13).

3- This is being brethren within the human level in the Quranic sharia legislations of Islam.


Secondly: being brethren within the human and nationalistic levels:

1- Being brethren within the nationalistic level is a type/branch of being brethren within the human level; it is normal that a group of people who share the same culture, language, era, and location to feel a certain bond of connection as one nation/people. God has sent prophets/messengers to all peoples in all eras and locations; some of their stories are found in the Quranic text; each one of the prophets/messengers spoke in the tongue used by their peoples; they carried but one clear message: Islam/submission to God, which means: There is no God but Allah, piety, peaceful behavior, good deeds, and to stop deifying things and mortals. Since Islam is essential peaceful behavior in general, each one of the prophets/messengers within the Quranic stories (including Muhammad) used to address his people by saying: "O people!" or "O my people!".     

1/1: Noah was a brother to his people and he was afraid lest they might be tormented by God on the Last Day as they rejected his call of monotheism: "Their brother Noah said to them, "Do you not fear?" (26:106); "We sent Noah to his people. He said, "O my people! Worship God; you have no God other than Him. I fear for you the punishment of a tremendous Day."The affluent retinue members among his people said, "We see that you are in obvious error." He said, "O my people, I am not in error, but I am a messenger from the Lord of the Worlds."" (7:59-61).

1/2: This is about the tribe/people of Aad and their prophet Hud: "And to Aad, their brother Hud. He said, "O my people! Worship God; you have no God other than Him. Will you not take heed?"" (7:65); Hud was like a brother to his people as per this verse: "When their brother Hud said to them, "Do you not fear?" (26:124); when they rejected him and accused him of being foolish, he nonetheless addressed him as his people: "He said, "O my people! There is no foolishness in me, but I am a messenger from the Lord of the Worlds." (7:68). 

1/3: The prophet Saleh was like a brother to his people/tribe of Thamood: "And to Thamood, their brother Saleh. He said, "O my people! Worship God; you have no god other than Him. Clarification has come to you from your Lord..." (7:73); "When their brother Saleh said to them, "Do you not fear?" (26:142). When the disbelieving sinners of Thamood were smitten and destroyed by God, Saleh addressed their corpses that way while feeling very sad over this people: ""Whereupon the quake overtook them, and they became lifeless bodies in their homes. Then he turned away from them, and said, "O my people, I have delivered to you the message of my Lord, and I have advised you, but you do not like those who give advice."" (7:78-79). 

1/4: The same occurred within the story of the prophet Shuaib who was a brother to his tribe/people of Madian: "And to Madian, their brother Shuaib. He said, "O my people, worship God; you have no God other than Him. A clear proof has come to you from your Lord..." (7:85); he addressed their corpses as his people, after they were destroyed by God for their sins and disbelief: "So he turned away from them, and said, "O my people, I have delivered to you the messages of my Lord, and I have advised you, so why should I grieve over a disbelieving people?"" (7:93).

1/5: Lot came along with Abraham from Iraq to the south of the Levantine region, and once he settled there, he was a brother to the people he lived with in the same location or homeland, before and after he was sent to them as their prophet: "When their brother Lot said to them, "Do you not fear?" (26:161); "And Aad, and Pharaoh, and the brethren of Lot." (50:13).

2- This is being brethren within the nationalistic level.


Thirdly: Islam and being brethren in faith/religion:   

1- Within Quranic stories of peoples smitten and destroyed by God, there was no sharia laws about self-defense fighting; the corrupt, aggressive, disbelieving sinners were struck and annihilated by the Lord Who spared the peaceful believers; in contrast, within stories that contain no destruction or torment imposed by God (as this era has come to an end by the torment/destruction of Moses' Pharaoh and his people), self-defense sharia legislations are part and parcel of the Torah, the Gospel, and the Quran; see 9:111 and 61:10-14. The fact that God no longer destroyed the sinners has influenced the concept of brethren as we explain in the following points.   

1/1: The aggressive disbelievers are never brethren in terms of Islam in terms of behavior (i.e., peace), unless they repent and adhere to peace/security once more, exemplified in performing prayers and donating alms/zakat to the poor; this repentance and adherence to peace make them brethren in religion/faith as per overt, ostensible behavior sensed and lived by all citizens in any given Quran-based State such as the Yathreb city-state; God says the following about the repentance of the aggressive, polytheistic ones who breached peace treaties and pledges: "But if they repent, and perform the prayers, and give zakat, then they are your brethren in faith. We detail the Verses for a people who know." (9:11).      

1/2: When the Qorayish military troops launched their aggressive war against the Yathreb city-state led by Muhammad, the topic of alliance and allying oneself has emerged; each of the citizens inside Yathreb had to either ally oneself to the peaceful believers who engaged into self-defense or to the aggressive party of polytheists; this has influenced the idea of being brethren, of course. some peaceful believers among the immigrants inside Yathreb used to ally themselves to the Meccan aggressive polytheists whose troops attacked Yathreb, because of their being their relatives or due to feelings of nostalgia to homeland (i.e., Mecca); God has commanded them to sever such ties with aggressors even if they were relatives or brothers: "You will not find a people who believe in God and the Last Day, loving those who oppose God and His Messenger, even if they were their parents, or their children, or their brothers, or their close relatives..." (58:22); "O you who believe! Do not ally yourselves with your parents and your brothers if they prefer disbelief to belief. Whoever of you allies himself with them - these are the unjust ones. Say, "If your parents, and your children, and your brothers, and your spouses, and your relatives, and the wealth you have acquired, and a business you worry about, and homes you love, are more dear to you than God, and His Messenger, and the struggle in His cause, then wait until God executes His judgment." God does not guide the sinful people." (9:23-24).    

1/3: Some companions or citizens inside Yathreb were hypocrites; they never raised arms against the early believers, but they conspired and schemed against them along with their (brethren) the disbelievers and aggressive polytheists: "Have you not considered those who act hypocritically? They say to their brethren who disbelieved among the People of the Book, "If you are evicted, we will leave with you, and will not obey anyone against you; and should anyone fight you, we will certainly support you." But God bears witness that they are liars." (59:11).     

1/4: Thus, hypocrites among the companion's inside Yathreb were brethren to one another as they shared the elements of disbelief, scheming, and hypocrisy: "Those who said to their brethren, as they stayed behind, "Had they obeyed us, they would not have been killed."..." (3:168); "God already knows the hinderers among you, and those who say to their brethren, "Come and join us."..." (33:18). 

1/5: Thus, the disbelieving brethren were joined in their worship of Satan; they were heedless of God's warning against the Devil, as they disbelieved in God's Word and rejected peace (i.e., Islam in terms of behavior) as they committed injustices and acts of aggression. This is why they were the brethren of (and allies to) Satan, who controlled their souls/hearts, and they were the foes of the pious believers who followed the Straight Path: "And when a suggestion from Satan assails you, take refuge with God. He is Hearing and Knowing. Those who are righteous - when an impulse from Satan strikes them, they remind themselves, and immediately see clearly. But their brethren lead them relentlessly into error, and they never stop short." (7:200-202). Thus, the verse 7:202 is about brethren of the Devil who seek to mislead the pious people.     

1/6: The extravagant spendthrifts are brethren to devils; this applies today to oil-rich corrupt Arabs, of course: "The extravagant are brethren of the devils, and the Devil is ever disbelieving in his Lord." (17:27).

2- In contrast, there are brethren in faith joined by adherence to peace (i.e., Islam in terms of behavior), and this should be reinforced by Islam in terms of monotheistic faith inside hearts of these brethren in order to attain God's mercy to enter into Paradise.

2/1: God here addresses the peaceful believers to adhere to His Word, the Quran, after they were made brethren in peace: "And hold fast to the rope of God, altogether, and do not become divided. And remember God's blessings upon you; how you were enemies, and He reconciled your hearts, and by His grace you became brethren..." (3:103).

2/2: Orphans are our brothers under our care and their rights are preserved, including their psychological wellbeing: "...And they ask you about orphans. Say, "Improvement for them is best. And if you intermix with them, then they are your brethren..." (2:220).

2/3: Adoption, by giving one's name to children, is prohibited in Islam; but even if we never know the name of the fathers of certain persons, they are  our brethren: "Call them after their fathers; that is more equitable with God. But if you do not know their fathers, then your brethren in faith and your friends..." (33:5).

2/4: Being brethren in faith is exemplified when all citizens in  Quran-based state are like brothers and sisters; this is real citizenship within the motto of making religion dedicated to God and the homeland dedicated for all people alike. This is also exemplified when states/countries deal peacefully with one another within treaties and so on or without treaties. This is Islam in terms of peaceful behavior; if a country disturbs this peace, other countries must interfere to restore peace so that citizens of the world return as brethren in peace once more:  "If two groups of believers fight each other, reconcile between them. But if one group aggresses against the other, fight the aggressing group until it complies with God's command. Once it has complied, reconcile between them with justice, and be equitable. God loves the equitable. The believers are brethren, so reconcile between your brothers, and remain conscious of God within piety, so that you may receive mercy." (49:9-10). We tend to think that this is reminiscent of the UN Charter, Chapter Seven.

2/5: Real Muslims (i.e., submitters to God) within all eras are those who combine between Islam in terms of behavior (i.e., peace and non-violence) and Islam in terms of faith/belief inside their hearts/souls (i.e., There is no God but Allah); thus, they combine between real monotheism and performing many good deeds; they will be brethren inside Paradise with no ill-feelings: "And We will remove all ill-feelings from their hearts – they will be brethren on couches facing one another." (15:47); they utter the following in this worldly realm: "And those who came after them, saying, "Our Lord, forgive us, and our brethren who preceded us in faith, and leave no malice in our hearts towards those who believe. Our Lord, You are Clement and Merciful."" (59:10).


Fourthly: being brethren in terms of parentage and lineage:

1- Within the Quranic sharia legislations:

1/1: Within Quranic inheritance laws, biological brothers and sisters have their shares of inheritance; see 4:11 and 4:176.

1/2: A man cannot married to daughters of his brothers and sisters and a man cannot marry two biological sisters at the same time; see 4:23.

1/3: We find the mention of the notion of brethren/brother(s) within other Quranic legislations related to social manners and the moralistic level.

1/3/1: This is in relation to women showing their ornaments before others; see 24:31.

1/3/2: This is in relation to temporary legislations linked only to Muhammad's wives and their houses/chambers; see 33:55.

1/3/3: This is in relation to being allowed to consume food inside the houses/homes of others; see 24:61.

2- Within Quranic stories:

2/1: This is about all prophets/messengers of the Lord God: "And of their ancestors, and their descendants, and their brethren - We chose them, and guided them to a Straight Path." (6:87).

2/2: The brothers of Joseph are mentioned a lot in the Quranic Chapter 12; see 12:5, 12:7-8, 12:58, 12:69-70, 12:76-77, 12:87, 12:90, and 12:100.

2/3: Aaron is mentioned a lot in the Quran as the brother of Moses; see 19:53, 20:42, 23:45, 25:35, and 26:36.

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